As the Internet continues to grow, competition for the perfect domain name grows with it, opening opportunities for companies to sell different extensions for the end of your URL (think .com, .net, .org and more recently .tv, .business, etc.). These are called Top-Level Domains (TLDs), and are a necessary expansion to offer more domain names as the rights to old names are taken.
A recent ABA article discussed the new domain structure, noting that YourFirmName.law will cost about $200 and keyword-focused domains such as AnnArborDivorce.law will start at $500, with the final price being determined via auction for those vying for the new registration.
This brings about a good question - Should I purchase these extra domains for my company?
A new domain name, whether it's .com, .law, .attorney or .lawyer, will only have real value if you make it the primary domain for a unique website.
So, purchasing estateplan.law and then redirecting it to myfirm.com will have zero value for your SEO/search ranking efforts.
But if you purchase estateplan.law and then set up a new, unique website at that address, that will create a new entity that will get indexed by search engines, and could be something that you could promote. You should consider this a completely separate venture from your current marketing efforts, with separate hosting and content.
In order to get this content seen by the search engines, it should be complete with information for potential customers to learn about that practice area specifically, and you can collect the leads along the way.
Another option is to replace your web address of myfirmname.com with a new domain like AnnArborDivorce.law. That would then allow you to get a domain name into the mix that has some high-ranking keywords — in this example, "Ann Arbor" and "Divorce" — that are helpful to your search rankings. You would then have your original myfirmname.com redirected to the new name so that search engines can transfer your search ranking reputation to the new domain. You'll also have to decide whether or not to change your email addresses to the new name. It's possible to keep your email addresses the same and only change the website address as well.
While Google no longer uses keywords in the domain name as a ranking factor, recent studies have shown that consumer interaction with the search engine results pages can affect your ranking. Having more people click on your site because the keyword is in your domain name could influence your standing with both customers and the search engines.
Choosing a domain name with practice area keywords and geographical references is useful for law firms who have one geographic or practice area that they focus on, with no possibility that they will be adding to those areas in the future. The Modern Firm will assist our clients in redirecting an old domain to ensure that no customers are lost in the crossover.
The other reason you might want to get a .law, .attorney or .lawyer name is to block competing firms from getting a "great name." This isn't as useful, because it is extremely easy to come up with new name ideas. In other words, your competitors will likely find other good names to buy and you shouldn't futilely put yourself on an expensive treadmill trying to chase every good name you can think of.
A .com extension carries with it a lot of inertia: your potential customers are used to seeing and trusting .com domain names. So it most likely doesn't make sense to switch over now. The new companies are selling these new TLDs as the best new thing, but when is the last time you went to a site that was not a .com?
When a webmaster registers a domain name, they will be given the option to buy additional TLDs. In order to maximize the direct traffic to a domain, it is advised that webmasters should only buy a domain if the .com version is available. Additionally, it is not recommend that SEO-conscious webmasters purchase low quality TLDs such as .biz, .info, .ws, .name, etc. as a means of increasing traffic. - Moz.com
Bottom line. The real thing that makes a website successful is careful attention to content along with effective advertising and marketing. The domain is a pretty small piece of the puzzle, and focusing effort on your .com or existing name will pay off in new leads and phone calls for your firm.